Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made! God has blessed me with another day. Another day to feel the love of family. Another day to see the sunrise and sunset. Another day to smell the blooming flowers and rain in the air. Another day to hear the birds chirping in the trees and wind blowing through the pines. Another day to taste sweet, juicy fruits and fresh-from-the-oven cookies. This is the day the Lord has made!

I will rejoice and be glad in it! I will be thankful for the gift of another day. I will not allow the negative attitudes of the world bring me down. I will not be consumed by political agendas. I will not be overcome by hatred. I will not be discouraged by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will not be frightened by the unknown. Instead, I will rejoice and be glad in this day the Lord has made!

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This is Temporary

There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for awhile. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to a God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Things may be difficult as you’re going through trials, but this scripture promises that trials are temporary. God doesn’t send trials to break you, but instead He allows them in order to make your faith in Him stronger.

When you feel frustrated by the trials in your life, remember that there will be wonderful joy again, so lean on Him and wait expectantly for that joy. Believe that this is temporary and your faith is more precious than gold.

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Bucket Full of Joy

What makes you happy? Many of us think if we just made more money or could win the lottery, we would be happy. For some, our happiness is based on relationships such as marriage or friendships. For others, happiness revolves around sports. And of course, if we can’t find happiness in other things, we tend to search for happiness in CHOCOLATE!

Unfortunately chocolate is not enough for the things that have been going on lately. Last week our country was rocked by an intentional bombing at the Boston Marathon injuring many innocent people on April 15. Just days later West, Texas was devastated by the explosion at a fertilizer plant on April 17. The same week marked the anniversaries of the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19 and the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20. Many in our nation were affected personally on a scale that is unimaginable. Whether you were affected personally or not, however, you WERE affected. We often find ourselves glued to the television in shock wondering how such things could happen.

Aside from national tragedies, we all have personal issues that often rock our world. Deaths, strained relationships, illness, heartache, and so many other things affect the happiness of our daily lives. Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Unfortunately that does not literally mean we will weep through the night and tomorrow everything will be ok. But instead it assures us that there WILL be a time of joy even in the midst of our trials.

The happiness that things such as money, relationships, sports, and chocolate provide is NOT the same as joy. Happiness comes and goes, but joy is long lasting and brings true contentment. Happiness causes short term pleasure, but joy is long lasting. Happiness isn’t something that you can cling to during the trials of life, but real joy endures the trials. True joy is only found through a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I’ve never had to retrieve water from a well. When I was young we had a well, but it had a pump. But like me, if you haven’t actually done it, you’ve probably observed it on Little House on the Prairie or some other show. Water didn’t just come out the sink by turning a knob as it does for us today. A bucket tied to a rope was lowered down into the well and then rolled back up and carried to the house for use.

For Christians, joy is like a bottomless well of water. The water is always there, but we have to lower the bucket to get it. It takes effort on our part. We can’t just turn the knob and expect joy to flow freely. We must make the choice each day to lower our bucket. So how exactly do we get the joy into our bucket?

  1. Pray – When things are out of your control, pray as if every aspect of the situation hinges on your prayer. James 5:16 says, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” Prayer is not a one-sided conversation for you to tell God what you want or how you feel. He wants to talk to you too, but often we do not take the time to listen.
  2. Believe – Trust God to bring you through it. Psalms 34:19 says, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” His plan is not our plan, so things may not work out exactly how we wanted. But He WILL carry you through. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
  3. Read the Bible – Search for what God wants you to learn. Don’t just sit down to read quickly through a daily plan. Take the time to search for what God wants to say to you through those verses.
  4. Look for positive aspects of life – Each day make an effort to find one good thing no matter how desperate your situation. Record those blessings in a Gratitude Journal so that you can see and hold in your hand all the blessings He bestowed during the trials.
  5. Avoid whining and complaining – Instead of making you feel better, complaining actually highlights the negative, keeping it your focus, and just makes the situation worse.
  6. Serve others – Doing something for someone else in their time of need helps you forget your own troubles for a moment and increases your joy while decreasing your stress.
  7. Laugh – Laughing actually provides many benefits. It relaxes the body, relieves stress and pain, benefits heart and immune systems. Laughter really is good medicine. So watch a funny movie, hang out with a friend who tells stupid jokes, or whatever makes you laugh.

Finally, guard your bucket. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy. He wants to rob you of your joy and will use anything possible to discourage us, cause us to worry, and even create doubt. When it seems that your Bucket Full of Joy is running low, go back to the well. Make sure that you are praying, believing, and reading your Bible. Make the choice every day to lower your bucket, and remember Psalms 30:5 which says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

We won’t always be happy, but we can still have joy in the midst of the chaos.

If you have been blessed by this devotion and would like to subscribe, please click the link in the right column for Email Subscription or follow through the Strength Renewed Facebook page.

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How many times have you found yourself in a situation in which it seemed the best response was to just grin and bear it? We often practice this technique in the small day to day annoyances so that we don’t come across as rude or cranky. We do it when we aren’t feeling well, and someone asks how we’re feeling so we don’t appear to be a whiner. How many times have you heard or said, “Suck it up, Buttercup”?  Many of us see this manner of dealing with adversity as a strong trait.

I’ve come to realize that even with the big stuff I tend to take this same approach.  It’s as if when I grin and bear it, that is proof of just how strong I am and how much faith I have. But instead maybe it just proves my lack of faith and that I am stubbornly digging my heels in an attempt to do things on my own.

For weeks after my husband’s accident, God was literally carrying me through each day because I did not have the strength to even try and do it on my own at that point. A week or two after the accident, I finally had to leave the hospital to take care of some things at home. It was probably the first time that I had really been alone. I remember a feeling of peace as I drove listening to the Christian radio station and even joy as I began to sing along and truly worship God in the midst of the storm. Our situation was not what I wanted to experience, but it was much better than what I had expected to be dealing with. Even in the stress of our situation, I was able to praise God for all He was doing.

But as time passed, my life started to feel out of control as I began to dig my heels in and grin and bear it. I stopped letting God carry me.  I stopped depending on Him and began a daily struggle of depending on me. It’s not easy to admit, but that’s when I began to lose my joy.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were thrown in prison after being falsely accused and beaten with no trial. They were treated unfairly and placed in a horrible circumstance, yet verse 25 says they were praying and singing to God. They weren’t dwelling on their physical pain, unfair treatment, or difficult situation. They didn’t simply grin and bear it to prove their faith. They showed that faith by choosing to turn their focus to God.  Others in the prison saw and heard their faith including a jailer who along with his family was saved. After an earthquake (v26), salvations (v33), and a heart to heart talk from Paul (v37), the officials released them.

My experience is small compared to that of Paul and Silas.  But their response has helped me to refocus, not on the situation but on God and the peace and joy that He gave me months ago during the most difficult of times. I’ve learned that I must continue to choose joy and check my focus daily, and He will continue to give me the strength I need. Others will see that in my life and ultimately bring glory to God.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29).

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5).

God allows both small trials and big trials in our lives.  His desire is not for us to just grin and bear it.  He wants us to truly have faith rather than depending on our own strength. He wants us to find a way to focus on Him and rejoice through the trial. He will take care of the rest. Don’t grin and bear it. Choose joy!

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He Walks With Me

Disturbing events in my life often cause me to walk aimlessly along, maybe discussing my feelings with a friend as I go, but still very confused about what is going on.  I’ve come to realize that I (you, me, we…choose any pronoun) am at times very similar to the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:13-16). They were mourning and confused when  Jesus joined them on their walk, but they did not recognize Him.

I think there are many times that Jesus walks and even talks with us, yet we don’t notice His presence. There are many reasons we may not recognize Him.

  • Emotions – Difficult circumstances have caused my emotions to be so overwhelming that I don’t always recognize that Jesus is walking with me.  The disciples were grieving the loss of their friend and the man they hoped would redeem Israel.  They were full of emotions.
  • Distractions –  Many distractions during situations have prevented my focus from being on Him. At times I must admit that I’ve become so focused on the circumstances that I can not see God at work in my life.  (In those moments, I’ve been extremely thankful for intercessory prayers of family and friends.)
  • Timing – Sometimes it is just not the right time for us to see Jesus, but instead it is a time for us to simply experience His presence as these disciples did.

Jesus opened their eyes to recognize Him in verse 31, and  when He was ready for them to know more, He opened their minds to understanding in verse 45. Then the exciting part happened.  He ascended into heaven! Their confusion was gone. They understood what He had been telling them and what the prophets had spoken for years. They worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:52).  They were able to joyfully return to the place that had caused so much confusion.

Like the disciples, we sometimes miss Jesus walking and talking along side us because confusion clouds our vision. But I believe our eyes will one day be opened so that we understand why God allowed the difficult things in our lives. Maybe not in this lifetime, but when it’s the right time.

An old hymn, which my daddy loved to sing, comes to mind called In the Garden by Charles Austin Miles. Part of the lyrics say:

And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own,  And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.

I find comfort in knowing that even in my confusion Jesus cares and is willing to walk with us.  No matter what confusion you are experiencing, trust that He will walk with you every step and even carry you when necessary. One day, He will open our eyes to understanding and again fill our hearts with worship and joy.

photo credit: NoJuan <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53978518@N00/35084498706″>Faint Pathway</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Joy Comes in the Morning

What makes you happy? Many of us think if we just made more money or could win the lottery, we would be happy. For some, our happiness is based on relationships such as marriage or friendships. For others, happiness revolves around sports. And of course, if we can’t find happiness in other things, we tend to search for happiness in CHOCOLATE!

We all have personal issues that rock our world at times. Cancer, death, pain, strained relationships, heartache, and so many other things affect the happiness of our daily lives. Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Unfortunately that does not literally mean we will weep through the night and tomorrow everything will be ok. But instead it assures us that there WILL be a time of joy even in the midst of our trials.

The happiness that things such as money, relationships, sports, and chocolate provide is NOT the same as joy. Happiness comes and goes, but joy is long-lasting and brings true contentment. Happiness causes short-term pleasure, but joy is long-lasting. Happiness isn’t something that you can cling to during the trials of life, but real joy endures the trials. True joy is only found through a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

For Christians, joy is like a bottomless well of water. The water is always there, but we have to lower the bucket to get it. It takes effort on our part. We can’t just turn the knob and expect joy to flow freely. We must make the choice each day to lower our bucket. So how exactly do we get the joy into our bucket?

8 steps to joy

  1. Pray – When things are out of your control, pray as if every aspect of the situation hinges on your prayer. James 5:16 says, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” Prayer is not a one-sided conversation for you to tell God what you want or how you feel. He wants to talk to you too, but often we do not take the time to listen.
  2. Believe – Trust God to bring you through it. Psalms 34:19 says, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” His plan is not our plan, so things may not work out exactly how we wanted. But He WILL carry you through. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
  3. Read the Bible – Search for what God wants you to learn. Don’t just sit down to read quickly through a daily plan. Take the time to search for what God wants to say to you through those verses.
  4. Look for positive aspects of life – Each day make an effort to find one good thing no matter how desperate your situation. Record those blessings in a Gratitude Journal so that you can see and hold in your hand all the blessings He bestowed during the trials.
  5. Avoid whining and complaining – Instead of making you feel better, complaining actually highlights the negative, keeping it your focus, and just makes the situation worse.
  6. Serve others – Doing something for someone else in their time of need helps you forget your own troubles for a moment and increases your joy while decreasing your stress.
  7. Laugh – Laughing actually provides many benefits. It relaxes the body, relieves stress and pain, benefits heart and immune systems. Laughter really is good medicine. So watch a funny movie, hang out with a friend who tells stupid jokes, or whatever makes you laugh.
  8. Finally, guard your bucket.  – Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy. He wants to rob you of your joy and will use anything possible to discourage us, cause us to worry, and even create doubt.

When it seems that your Bucket Full of Joy is running low, go back to the well. Make sure that you are praying, believing, and reading your Bible. Make the choice every day to lower your bucket, and remember Psalms 30:5 which says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

We won’t always be happy, but we can still have joy in the midst of the chaos.

joy

If you have been blessed by this devotion and would like to subscribe, please click the link in the right column for Email Subscription or follow through the Strength Renewed Facebook page.

Photo credit:  Photobucket

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A carefully picked bouquet of dandelions was handed to me by one of my students.  To her dismay, an unappreciative boy pointed out that dandelions are actually nothing but a bitter weed.  The little girl was crushed.  The bouquet she worked so hard to create and was so proud to present to her teacher was suddenly nothing but a bunch of weeds.  I quickly pointed out to the class that there are many weeds that produce pretty flowers.  As bitter as a dandelion may be, it still has a certain beauty to offer.

A little research revealed that dandelions have many good qualities.  Although bitter-tasting, they are surprisingly nutritious containing calcium, iron, vitamins B and C, just to name a few.  Dandelions also have medicinal uses.  They are such a great diuretic that children sometimes wet the bed after playing with them. Who would have thought that bed wetting could be caused by playing with dandelions!  The milk from the stem helps repel mosquitoes and cure worts.  Herbalists recommend dandelions for problems with gall bladder, pancreas, and kidneys.  So, what many consider as a pesky weed on their lawn, actually has many beneficial qualities.

Attitudes can sometimes resemble dandelions.  Maybe they seem attractive initially, but upon tasting we find they are bitter. Then there are those who come across as bitter and harsh, but as we get to know them we see all the good qualities they have to offer.  Psalms 73:21 says, “Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had seen.”  Times of struggle may temporarily change our view of life from one of beauty to one of bitterness and pain.  It may be such a slow process that, like the psalmist, we suddenly realize our attitudes have shifted from joy to bitterness.  The Psalmist goes on to say in verse 23, “Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand.”  How amazing that even when I am so bitter I don’t even like myself, I am still a child of God.  He does not give up and toss me away like a wilted dandelion.  Instead He continues to hold my hand and guide me through the bitter attitude and the circumstances that caused it.

Dandelions (mlecz)

Dandelions (mlecz) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like my bouquet, our situation depends on our perspective.  We may have become bitter from the physical or emotional pain we have suffered, but the beauty is that we still belong to God.  He sees all the good qualities that He has instilled in us and the potential that we have.  After all, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”(Ephesians 2:10).  Regardless of how bitter we become, He created us for good, and He has prepared us to accomplish that good.  God constantly holds us in His hand like a beautiful bouquet, bitterness and all, and He continues to loves us through it.

Whatever is causing bitterness in your life, ask God to reveal the beauty and restore your joy today.

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